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UNC's McDonald Cleared To Play

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 3:26pm

Yesterday, David Glenn told you that something was likely coming down soon from the NCAA regarding Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston.

Today the Leslie McDonald portion of the saga has reached its conclusion, when the NCAA issued a press release announcing the senior shooting guard's reinstatment.

McDonald missed the first nine games as a penalty for taking the following improper benefits: "the use of luxury cars, payment of parking tickets, a cell phone and lodging."

It's interesting that nothing about McDonald's involvement with Iceberg Guards was mentioned. I'm assuming that McDonald a) had no idea his likeness was being used to sell the mouthguards and b) either paid for the one he used or its value was deemed negligible (which wouldn't exactly be great advertising, considering some of the guards retail for hundreds of dollars).

Even more interesting is this line:

At this time, McDonald’s reinstatement request is the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina.

Naturally the Twittersphere immediately wondered if that meant UNC hadn't even bother trying to get P.J. Hairston's eligiblity restored. However, one Twitter follower @JXD23 raised a valid question:

 Good point. If UNC knows Hairston's out for the season and the school isn't going to appeal that decision, then what's the point of having him on the sidelines, publicly linked to the team? Also, consider the timeline of McDonald's case, as put forth by the NCAA. According to the release, UNC didn't apply for McDonald's reinstatement until Dec. 11. So perhaps one side - or maybe both - is still gathering facts. Or maybe there's a dispute over what exactly the facts are in Hairston's case. 

So while Hairston's situation remains resolved, the Tar Heels at least making a valuable addition to their player rotation in McDonald. While he's not the overall player that Hairston is, I'd McDonald's presence on the floor makes a big, big difference for UNC. Because he provides a skill that only one other current team member (Marcus Paige) can provide: outside shooting. And when Paige is focused on shooting, he's not as involved with running the team. Having McDonald gives UNC the dual benefit of 1) simply another outside shooting threat and b) the ability to play Paige at the point more.